Audio: As numbers of Skylarks decline, we look at what makes these small birds so popular

Skylark Skylark

Saturday, April 26, 2014
6:30 AM

It’s a busy time for nature. Spring is well and truly with us and the birds of East Anglia are nesting, sitting on eggs, or – for the early breeders – feeding young.

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Take a ride into the countryside and the sound that really brings home the start of warmer longer hazy days has to be the skylark, the epitome of the English countryside. Hear it and you look up (if you have sharp eyes) to find the bird high overhead singing to all that are within reach. When it’s on the ground it can be impossible to locate.

During the summer, skylarks (Alauda arvensis) are resident all across the UK, from the lowlands of the south to the uplands of the north. Unfortunately it’s believed that only a tenth of the numbers exist today compared with the 1960s. Changes in the agricultural calendar have had a major impact on them: cereals that were once planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn are now planted in the autumn and harvested in early summer, and the mature cereals in the late spring / early summer do not make for good nest sites. Let’s hope the incentives and support offered to farmers continues to get the numbers increasing.

Making a nest out of grass on the ground with up to three broods in a good year could produce double figure offspring. It has a crest which is extended if excited or alarmed.

Photography tip: with birds that feed on the ground a low level shot offers impact, but switch off multi-point focusing and leave it to the single centre point. Doing this stops your camera from focusing in front of the bird.

Now go and listen to the beautiful song of the skylark on https://tinyurl.com/buxpyt7

Don’t forget, if you have any wildlife stories that could be photographed please let me know via steve@ukwildlife.me.uk. Further images are available at www.ukwildlife.me.uk

 

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